ACS Laboratory Named a Colorado State Licensed Hemp Testing Laboratory

Columbia Basin Bioscience

 

Earlier this year, the team at Columbia Basin Bioscience began continuous cryo ethanol extraction operations in a 150,000-sq.-ft. facility in northeastern Oregon. It’s a business segment that builds out the supply chain of third-generation farmer Alan Cleaver’s endeavors on a nearby plot of 68,000 acres.

In November, Cleaver’s team announced that Columbia Basin Bioscience had become the first extraction facility to be certified by ASTM’s CANNQ/HEMPQ Certification Program, a suite of business control standards designed specifically for the burgeoning cannabis and hemp space. These standards include guidance on hiring, training and perfecting SOPs, as well as the more operations-based practices of the business: extraction, distillation, isolation. Think food safety, and you’ll get a sense of the rigor now being applied to hemp. 

“It’s amazing to get ASTM-accredited,” Cleaver said. “To give our customers and clients assurances of our high-quality is amazing to have for their peace of mind.”

Running three and a half days a week, as of now, the Columbia Basin Bioscience facility is capable of processing 350,000 lbs. of biomass each month. Cleaver pointed out that there’s more to come, too, as their model is entirely scalable. To get it right, he said, standards such as those promulgated in the ASTM CANNQ/HEMPQ Certification Program are critical.

“We strive for safety. I’ve tried to call and get help in this business, and there’s no one to call,” Cleaver said. “This is a brand new business.”

Though the crop has been cultivated for hundreds of years, the regulated landscape in the U.S. is still quite green. There’s a certain knowledge gap—and a race to develop the best practices that will come to be identified with the hemp industry.

As opposed to, say, grass seed or soybeans, where regulations are known like the back of a farmer’s hand, hemp does not have a robust track record yet. There are no industry-leading perspectives on how to build a safe business.

“All of this isn’t new. It’s only new to the hemp industry,” Cleaver said. “We have to grow up as an industry. We’re so far behind the food industry.”

ASTM’s certification process homes in on supply chain control, from soup to nuts. “They’re all about controls and the systems you have in place,” Cleaver said. This includes: how a business handles product recalls, processing, quality assurance and sustainability.

“Right now, this industry is so fragmented and immature—with little regulation,” Cleaver said. “Buyers and customers have a real problem with knowing what to buy without visiting our plants. This gives everyone in the industry a way to control, to have the same product [from one batch to the next]. Without those controls, the buyers don’t know what they’re getting.”

Zooming out a bit from the customer, Cleaver also noted that industry-wide standards are almost prerequisites for more nuanced oversight from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and for subsequent regulatory frameworks for food supplements—something that is expected to be a boon for hemp farmers and processors. Same with outside investment: Sources of private equity require certain assurances that business practices will be secure and clearly articulated.